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April 29, 2006

eBay bargain

Filed under: Cars — chuck goolsbee @ 9:38 am

It seems eBay has lost a lot of the “garage sale” bargain nature it had back in the early days. It has gone from the place we went to sell our cast off to basically a cheap e-commerce system for retailers who can’t figure out their own e-commerce system… or just like the easy exposure it provides them. For example I just bought a fuel transfer pump for my home-brew Diesel setup… I found it via eBay (but didn’t BUY it via eBay.) I just went straight to the web page of the seller (a pump retailer/farm supply in the midwest)… I had given up on finding a bargain. I found that transfer pumps sell on eBay at the same price, OR MORE than they sell at retail. Looking around, it seems this is true about just about everything on eBay. Sellers see the prices and inflate theirs accordingly. Suddenly there are no bargains.

I remember days when you could buy stuff for pennies on the dollar, auctions were really auctions and you could find just about anything you wanted for a reasonable price.

While it seems that the days of finding a bargain, or even a reasonable price on eBay are gone, I’m happy to say I found one recently. I’ve been scrounging for a stock S1 air cleaner assembly for the Jaguar, but I’d rather not forgo my kids’ college funds to do so. It seems these items are becoming unobtanium. The three major components (trumpets, plenum & filter cannister) routinely sell for well over $100 each on eBay, even in poor condition. “New” from the usual vendors, you would spend well over $1000 for the set.

A friend pointed me to an eBay auction with both a plenum & trumpets, with less than a day to go, and I was able to grab the set for under $50. Whoo hoo.

They are a little grotty, but should clean up well I hope.

So I packed the trumpets in the car today as I headed up to Chilliwack to visit Geoff Pickard at English Classic Cars. Geoff wanted to have the car back, 1000 miles into my rebuilt engine to have a look and check on it. So I played hooky from work and headed north, stopping in Bellingham to grab a S3 fuel pump from Greg Bilyeau to courier to and from Geoff for repair or replace. I figured Geoff would appreciate the deal I found on eBay, as we had discussed the price of these parts before.

Drive was wonderful, car ran fine, border crossing was painless. Geoff gave the car a checkup, and fine-tuned the carbs. He used a combination of techniques, mostly “ear” along with some “eye” in the form of three “Colortunes”… which are in a nutshell see-through spark plugs. He put one in a cylinder served by each carburettor. You could see the combustion change color (from blue to yellow) as the fuel/air mixture was adjusted. It was the first time I’d seen one in use… pretty cool. Hard to photograph them in ‘action” though as it is best in low light and timing the shutter would be near impossible.

Above: the Colortunes in the XK.

We decided to tackle my loose left rear hub. Thinking it would just be a few shims, it turned into yet another “Archeology Expedition of Doom” unearthing more horrors from the past… but I’ll leave that for another post…

So to keep me out of his hair while he fixed the hub, Geoff parked me in front of his media blasting cabinet with my grotty trumpets and let me loose. What a blast. =)

The trumpets look great now:

Above:2/3rds done.

All done.

Now I just have to find some hammerite paint.

And find a cannister.


  1. Good going, Chuck. So……………gonna tell us the story of the rear axle? I imagine it might be similar to the engine?

    (Incidentally, someone is writing a book on E-Type restoration. Maybe you can do the foreword.)

    Comment by Roger — May 2, 2006 @ 8:16 pm

  2. Working on that story now.

    Be patient!

    Comment by cg — May 2, 2006 @ 8:19 pm

  3. Fair enough, it’s just that you mentioned it days ago and I know you have nothing better to do. 😉

    Comment by Roger — May 2, 2006 @ 10:01 pm

  4. yeah right… so who is the “someone”?? Is it someone who has actually finished an e-type restoration? 😉

    Comment by cg — May 2, 2006 @ 10:05 pm

  5. Think about your engine, rear axle and central Texas…and the identity of “someone” will become clear. Somehow I don’t imagine you being first in line for an autographed copy. Or me, for that matter.

    Comment by Roger — May 2, 2006 @ 11:29 pm

  6. Oh … my… gawd. It all makes sense now. No… I doubt very much Dan Mooney would have me write a forward for his book. Perhaps we should put some work into that website I made (in a fit of anger)… and develop it into the fine bit of satire it could become.

    Comment by cg — May 3, 2006 @ 9:51 am

  7. I long ago had correspondence with someone who had a bad experience with D–this person literally feared for their physical safety, despite being thousands of miles away. A bit over the top (and markedly weird), but we should probably arm ourselves just in case. Of course, I would end up with a gun that “needed some work” so my “arming” would actually make me slightly less of a threat than my not having a gun at all…

    I’ll be interested to hear about the rear axle. I put my coupe’s back together myself and it’s really not terribly complicated, actual differential-gear-meshing aside. A pro should be able to do it with their eyes closed…maybe that’s what happened?

    Comment by Roger — May 3, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

  8. The axle was not the issue, it was the lower fulcrum. The bottom line is that I strongly suspect that they neglected to service this part in the post-flood resto. Given how much money they collected, and the evident poor workmanship everywhere I look, it wouldn’t surprise me if Dan hired blind mechanics for this job and laughed all the way to the bank. Grrr.

    Comment by cg — May 3, 2006 @ 7:40 pm

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